The future USS Little Rock, the Navy’s ninth littoral combat ship, was christened and launched in Wisconsin Saturday, and will ultimately be based in San Diego.

The Lockheed Martin-led industry team launched the vessel into into the Menominee River at the Marinette Marine Corp. shipyard near Green Bay on Lake Michigan.

The ship’s sponsor, Mrs. Janee Bonner, christened Little Rock with the traditional smashing of a champagne bottle across the ship’s bow just prior to the launch. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who served as an officer aboard the earlier cruiser USS Little Rock, presented the keynote address.

Following christening and launch, Little Rock will continue to undergo outfitting and testing before delivery to the Navy later this year.

“This future USS Little Rock will use interchangeable mission modules that empower her to face a variety of high-priority missions, from anti-surface warfare to anti-submarine warfare to mine countermeasures,” said Joe North, vice president of littoral ships & systems for Lockheed Martin. “She is ideally suited to navigate the reefs and shallows in the Asia-Pacific, as so well demonstrated by USS Fort Worth on her current deployment.”

The Little Rock is one of seven littoral combat ships under construction at Marinette Marine, which has built more than 1,300 ships for the Navy.

Fast, agile and mission-focused, littoral combat ships are designed to operate in near-shore environments. The Navy is building 52 in two variants.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.